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Don't despair, Manchester United: 27 forgotten British underdog shocks in Europe

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23. Bayern Munich 1-2 Norwich 

UEFA Cup | October 20, 1993

A weak defensive header from 32-year-old Lothar Matthaus fell for Goss to wallop home the opener

“Jeremy Goss – just look at that!” John Motson perfectly summed up the moment when the Norwich midfielder’s stunning 20-yard volley made a bystander of Bayern Munich keeper Raimond Aumann, who had been targeted as Die Roten’s weak link by Canaries manager Mike Walker.

A weak defensive header from 32-year-old Lothar Matthaus fell for Goss to wallop home the opener, before Mark Bowen made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark. Although Matthaus started many attacks and Christian Nerlinger found the net, Norwich became the first English team to beat Bayern in Munich.

24. Tottenham 3-1 Inter

Champions League | November 2, 2010

Inter were torn asunder by a rampant Spurs and their force of nature called Gareth Bale

Spurs were delighted just to be playing in the Champions League; Inter were defending it. But, two weeks after they’d been served notice of his threat as Tottenham came back from 4-0 down to lose only 4-3, Inter were torn asunder by a rampant Spurs and their force of nature called Gareth Bale.

The Welshman set up goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko and, having already roasted him in a San Siro hat-trick, gave Maicon a harrowing night from which his reputation never recovered. “Taxi for Maicon,” sang the Spurs fans. Bale had arrived.

25. Middlesbrough 4-2 Steaua Bucharest

UEFA Cup | April 27, 2006

Downing picked up the ball on the left and crossed for Maccarone to net with a last-minute header

After 25 minutes of this semi-final second leg at the Riverside, Boro were 2-0 down on the night, 3-0 behind on aggregate and had lost captain Gareth Southgate to injury. So, Steve McClaren went for broke and brought on striker Massimo Maccarone. It took eight minutes for the Italian to score. But Boro still needed three goals in 57 minutes, and winger Stewart Downing duly obliged with a hat-trick of assists as Mark Viduka and Chris Riggott put Boro 3-2 up.

As supporters chanted, “We only need one more”, Downing picked up the ball on the left and crossed for Maccarone to net with a last-minute header. After such heroics, it seemed the UEFA Cup was Boro’s, but Sevilla – who else? – outclassed them in the final.

26. Cologne 0-1 Nottingham Forest

European Cup | April 25, 1979

No team had reached the final when a win in the away leg was required, but Forest defended stoutly before Ian Bowyer’s header gave them the lead

Forest were underdogs throughout their first European Cup-winning campaign, but before the home leg of their semi-final, assistant manager Peter Taylor informed the players that Cologne, their opponents, were useless. Ninety minutes later Forest barely emerged with a 3-3 draw, and the Germans were so confident of progressing that they made travel plans for the Munich showpiece.

No team had reached the final when a win in the away leg was required, but Forest defended stoutly before Ian Bowyer’s header gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. “Two seasons before, we had been in the Second Division,” Bowyer later recalled. “This was just unheard of.”

27. Wrexham 1-0 Porto

Cup Winners’ Cup | September 19, 1984

Wrexham weren’t so much underdogs in the Cup Winners’ Cup as barely canine at all, not least because they qualified despite losing the Welsh Cup final – winners Shrewsbury Town were ineligible because they were English. In the first round, Wrexham were drawn against Porto and snatched a 1-0 win in the home leg thanks to Jim Steel’s effort. Even so, everyone assumed that wouldn’t matter because the second leg would be a walkover.

When Porto went 3-0 up inside 38 minutes, obituaries were drafted, and despite full-back Jake King scoring twice before the break, the visitors’ efforts seemed futile when Paulo Futre fired the hosts back in front. But then in the 89th minute, a young Barry Horne threw up a leg and looped the ball home: Wrexham were through on away goals to face Roma. Woof!

This feature originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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Despite Megson’s best efforts, however, the Trotters won 1-0 thanks to an El-Hadji Diouf goal